So who’d have thought that facing your nemesis would cure the post mara blues and herald the return of long lost mojo?
We all have irrational fears that deep down we know are totally unfounded, stupid, all in our head but we cling to them anyway. Usually it’s spiders, the dark, the space under the bed ( get a drawer divan…..great for running kit and fear quashing!) . For me however, the queen of confidence, the one who folk expect to be uber calm in a crisis, it’s……….5km !!
I’ve run a mara, I can run 10km without giving it a second thought, that’s a normal training run. The C25k runners usually have 5km licked in 6 weeks and are sub 30 mins after a couple of months practice, but me, I HATE it! I think my brain tells me that as an experienced runner 5km must be attempted at the speed of Usain Bolt or it’s not worth putting your trainers on! The word speed scares me, I stick to the mantra I’m built for stamina not speed. Speed means heart attacks, strokes, brain haemorrhages and migraines……totally irrational I know.
My only 5kms are the ’round the block’ ones from my front door occasionally done before work or when I need a run and don’t have much time. I’ve mapped an exact 5km route from my door which takes around 28/29 minutes and when I have ‘clogged’ it by my standards its 27 minutes! I’ve never run a Parkrun and have one recorded official 5km time from the HPP Grand Prix last year which was 24.30. I’ve no idea how I managed that at the time, it was a one off!
So during a bored afternoon in the office I decided to enter the running club, Lakeside handicap around Holme Pierrepoint lake, a 3 mile distance , just shy of 5km. It’s flat, quite boring and there’s always a terrific headwind on one side of it or the other. I still have no idea how or why the event works. It runs three times in the season, you predict your finishing time and you’re set off in stages accordingly, slowest first so everyone finishes together. Frankly I still don’t get it, the ‘winner’ is the one who beats their time by the best margin ( so it assumes you’re not going to be disingenuous about your time).
The whole time thing was a horrific dilemma , I was thinking go with 29 mins and then thought come down to 27/28 to allow for the slightly shorter distance. I’ve had three post mara runs, all awful. My legs have felt like lead and I was wondering how long recovery takes. The club members I know were horrified at what was clearly such a shameful prediction, assuring me I’d be quicker , all the oldies were saying they’d be quicker so I needed to be ( and I mean the vet 60s). I felt sick, too much pressure, I almost went home and decided not to bother. Nadia, the cause of my running obsession, pushed me to 25 minutes, I wanted 26. Only kindred spirit Sue, who was time keeping due to injury, understood my crisis. HPP are a super speedy bunch…….they’ve normally packed up and gone home when me and Sue cross a finish line ( we missed the Ashby 20 team shot!)
There were 5 of us in my start wave, I wore a club vest which was bloody freezing, which is obvious from my starting demeanour!
So worried was I about making the 25, I went ahead quickly……I’ve started too fast before on a shorter distance and been nearly dead by the first mile mark. I kept going, the pressure of not being overtaken by others was huge ( yes I am competitive, yes, that would bother me ) . I gradually actually passed all the waves in front of me except the first runners to go. I apologise now to some of the people I passed. I must have sounded like Lord Vadar coming up, it was killing me. Half of me was saying slow down you’re going to die whilst the other half was shouting come on, it’s only 5 km, there’s the bloody finish. I made up my mind to finish strong. I couldn’t catch the two ladies who easily beat their 30 minute prediction but neither was I caught by anybody. At the final bend I was sure someone was right on my tale, but apparently not.
I finished and ran straight to a portacabin that I figured I could throw up behind if required. Guess what…..
I felt fast and sick. I haven’t pushed so hard in a long time, clearly it does you good and reaffirms my trusted adage that nothing good or bad ever happens in the comfort zone. Before I get carried away with my epic speed, I should mention that the fastest chap trotted round in 16.13 and the fastest lady who is a legendary vet runner, in 18.51……I’d have gone home in an ambulance at those times.
Sue had good advice, I clearly need to train bring chased…..anyone have a large scary dog that they can unleash after me ?
My mojo is back with vengeance, I can do fast(er) , I can run 5km, I can push hard and live to tell the tale. But I’m already thinking that if I do the next one I’ll have to put 23 minutes ……OMG head, please get a grip, I’m not sure I can cope with that thought already.